When people talk about the perils and pitfalls of college life, they rarely mention run-ins with law enforcement because most people don’t think about criminal charges as part of that time in a person’s life. Despite this fact, misunderstandings can and do happen on hormone- and alcohol-fueled campuses around the country, the consequences of which can sometimes be severe. All it takes is a simple argument or a spilled drink for a situation to escalate past the point of either party’s control, potentially leading to assault charges.
If you or a loved one are facing assault charges as a student at Towson University, know that you are not alone. The finely honed legal minds at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice have more than a decade of experience defending clients’ rights, and they can put that expertise to work for you right away. To learn more about all our services or to set up your free consultation, call us at (410) 694-7291 or visit us online today.
Definition of Assault Under Maryland Law
The common understanding of the term “assault” often seems to be that it entails some sort of physical attack on another person, but the truth of the word is less simple. In many states, the law uses the term “battery” to describe the actual infliction of harm and the term “assault” to simply mean the threat of injury, not the act itself. Maryland, however, instead does away with the distinction by referring to all aspects of the alleged crime as some degree of assault.
In practice, this means that a Towson student could be charged with assault without ever laying a hand on another person – a fact that might come as a surprise to students and parents alike. Typically, assault is separated into two degrees based on the type of damage inflicted:
- First-degree assault is the more severe of the two and is typically reserved for cases involving the threat or infliction of serious injury.
- Second-degree assault is less severe, generally indicating the threat or infliction of offensive physical contact, meaning any touch that might reasonably be considered objectionable.
Additional factors can factor into the final charges as well, including whether guns were involved or whether the person assaulted was a first responder or member of law enforcement. An experienced attorney can look into the circumstances around your assault charges and explain them to you in further detail.
Defense Against Assault Charges at Towson University
It is a testament to the American legal system that the accused in any case is assumed to be innocent until proven otherwise. The standard of proof for criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” meaning that the state has to show incontrovertible evidence of a person’s guilt in order to obtain a conviction. This means that mounting a defense is often less difficult than it may seem. Below are a few of the most common defenses offered on behalf of someone accused of assault.
As many people know, acting in self-defense is a perfectly reasonable and permissible act when faced with imminent danger. You cannot be convicted of assault if you were simply reacting to an impending attack, or if you had just been assaulted yourself.
Defense of Others
Similar to the situation with self-defense, acting in defense of others is also generally considered a legally sanctioned response to a threat. However, keep in mind that it may be more difficult to establish a threat to another person, as it will likely require that person’s cooperation with the defense.
Mistake of Fact
A defense using “mistake of fact” is fairly straightforward; it simply states that the defendant did not understand some crucial element of the situation that led to their alleged crime. Believing that you are acting in defense of someone who is in no danger is one example of this – you would have mistakenly thought you were acting in defense of others, meaning that you lacked the intent to commit the crime.
A host of other circumstances can also help you mount a defense in court or even get the charges dismissed altogether. For instance, if law enforcement violated your rights during the investigation or arrest, you may be able to have the charges dropped; similarly, if the prosecution did not follow proper procedure during the case, they may be forced to dismiss the charges altogether. A skilled lawyer can look into your case and provide you with options regarding the best way to clear your name and record.
Experienced Attorneys Defending Towson Students Against Assault Charges
Navigating the legal system in Maryland can be a trying task, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal nuances of your case. It is for this reason that the team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice stand ready to assist you through this difficult time. Randolph Rice is a former assistant state’s attorney with extensive experience in courtrooms across Maryland. Let him and his staff protect your rights in the most effective way possible. Visit us online or call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule your free consultation.